Philadelphia 3 – Atlanta 0; CJ: 1-3
I want to talk about instant replay, if I may. Major League Baseball has, for all intents and purposes, refused to use it, as they allow it for reviewing homeruns only. This is interesting to me for a few reasons.
But before I delve into, here’s my favorite reason. It’s a single event that happened a couple years ago. The Yankees and the Rays were in the middle of beating each other up for the AL East crown. The loser would easily win the Wild Card, but, as they’re two teams that don’t exactly like each other, I think winning was important.
They were in Tampa for the series and, during one of the games, Derek Jeter was at bat. An inside pitch flew by him and, on first glance, iy appeared to hit him. He helped this ‘appearance’ by grabbing his wrist, jumping up and down, and bending over in pain – selling it, really. I say selling it because, upon looking at the replay, the ball hit his bat. It did not hit him. Did not even come close.. He was just, in that moment, a faker and a cheater. But whether his performance sold it or the umps had already determined it hit him, he was awarded first base. The manager of the Rays, Joe Maddon, went crazy. He was screaming at the ump, claiming he saw it hit the bat.
But, really, it was one tip-top acting job by the Jeter. I mean, you’d have thought his wrist was broken. So, instead of being a fair ball and he’s thrown out for the third out (when the ball hit his bat, it hit the butt of it and bounced back into fair territory), he’s standing on first and, as always happens in these situations, scores when the batter behind him (sorry I’ve forgotten your name) hits a homerun, giving the Yankees the lead.
Now, luckily for MLB, in that game the Rays came back to win or else this could have been a big deal. Or bigger deal. Because everyone and their blind dog could tell from the replay that it didn’t hit the bat. That’s right, I said replay. After the game, I remember a reporter asked Jeter where that ball hit and he said ‘The bat.’ He knew. And everybody else knew. Except the umpires.
And, truth be told, I don’t blame Jeter. He was honest about it after the fact when he said, ‘My job is to get on base, and the ump told me to go to first. I wasn’t going to tell him otherwise.’ Nor should he have to, in my opinion. You know what should tell the ump otherwise? Replay.
When things like this happen, it just makes MLB look foolish. The whole world sees their mistake instantly, and they’re left using their memories to fight that they were right. And it’s not a knock against umpires. It’s hard to catch everything. Put me out there on a baseball diamond, and I’d get every call wrong.
That’s why replay could be there just to help umpires when they need it. I don’t think it would replace umps or anything. It’s just a back-up system, like the self-destruct button in space ships so the enemy doesn’t get all your secrets after you evacuate. You know, a fall back, like it is in, oh, every other sport out there. Tennis. Football. Basketball.
Baseball argues against it on two main points: it takes too long and it takes away the human element. Well the first one is bunk, because they used instant replay during the Little League World Series last year – that’s right, Little League – and they found the average time it took to resolve a dispute, meaning from the moment the coach questioned it to the moment the ump had a decision, was 1:52. Less than two minutes! And the actual review only took 40 something seconds. Most of the time is spent in transit. Football takes three times as long and they would never think about doing away with it. And fans don’t mind that it takes so long. They just want the call to be right. Plus, for me, I think it’s fun to sit there and argue over what you saw and what the ruling will be. So time is really not an issue.
And the human element? Please. The human element stinks. (Literally.) The human element gets things wrong all the time. That’s why we invented things like video cameras to help us get it right. Besides, when we humans make a mistake, we relish the opportunity for a do-over. And that’s all replay is. I just don’t understand why MLB wouldn’t want to get it right.
So, if you can’t tell, I’m in favor of increased usage of instant replay in MLB. I think it’s a good thing. For someone that doesn’t embrace much technology is her life, simply because I can’t be bothered, this I am in favor of embracing. This I see as having an immediate benefit, and I don’t think it would undermine umps. It doesn’t in any other sport. It supports them by helping them get it right. By helping that not be humiliated on SportsCenter and the interweb when everyone is blasting them for their missed call. They can fix their innocent mistake and move on from it.
What will it take, MLB? Will it take a call blown at the crucial moment of the World Series? When it absolutely has to be gotten right and it isn’t. Then, and only then, will you use more replay? Probably. Which doesn’t surprise me. That seems to be the reactive nature of the commissioner’s office these days, anyway.